Just about to the end of this list of qualifications of an elder/pastor penned by Paul in 1Timothy 3 – the idea of this is for ME, it’s a healing process, it’s a renewal process, it’s a way to look back at my life as a minister and what the Lord has done. I’m loving this through the pain of reality.
12. Must manage his family well, having children who love and respect him. Well this one is a very difficult one for me. I have two families, I was married as a very young man and had 4 children………..Jennifer, Misty, Shirley and Ryan. This was before I became a Christian but the reality is it doesn’t matter if I was or not, it’s just basic human behavior to love and take care of your family…..it does not depend on if you follow God or not. Back then my life was a total mess with drugs, alcohol, women, money etc….get the picture? I walked out of that family after 8 years of marriage, the children were all pretty young, Ryan was only 2 years old.
After another failed marriage, a year in state prison my life changed forever….I remarried a few years later and had 4 more children…..Meghan, Noah, Rebecca, and Adam. At this point in my life I saw everything differently, I was broken knowing what I had done to my other children…..I was never a father to them, spent very little time with them and did not invest into them at all. When I had 4 more children it was as though the Lord gave me a second chance and I was determined to be a GREAT FATHER to them! I believe that I was with the exception of 2 things….
1. I had secrets that they never knew about and sooner or later the Lord will expose them – they had NO idea of who I was on the inside (not saying I was always someone else, but the secrets grew through the years) When I was exposed, they were all grown and it was devastating to them all. They ONLY knew me as the father they could trust, the father that was faithful, the father that was their pastor………a father that LOVED their mother. So for them it was devastating.
2. I never made it right with my other children, I kept the attitude that it was the past and I could not change it, they are all grown and doing fine…. I let them know how much God has changed my through my words, but my actions NEVER MET up with my words. So, I didn’t teach my children how to forgive, seek forgiveness, repair hurts, and make things right. They thought I was a stellar Christian man who made mistakes and God healed and made it right!!
So with my first family, they were hurting and had to learn how to deal a father that was not a father and when this happened again in 2012 it crushed them even more. When I fell as pastor, when my life was totally exposed, I called each one of them and let them know. Even at that moment I had NO CLUE how it affected them…..My second daughter Misty helped me the most with this. She pretty much said she wanted nothing to do with me! I was hurt and angry with her and asked her about it. She calmly explained to me why she said that and what she meant. She has worked very hard to heal in her life and most of it because of ME….she was no longer going to allow me to hurt her, control her feeling, her pain etc…. she is better off keeping a distance. That opened the door to SO MUCH for me. Not only with Misty but for everyone that was in my life. All the pain I’ve caused in so many lives. I will forever be grateful for that. I love you Misty Scott for being honest with me and having the guts to say it.
Then there is the issues of Sandie, Jody and Diane…. Sandie and I were married for 8 years, high school sweethearts……I walked away from that marriage and family and did not look back for many years. I cheated on Sandie and left her for another woman (girl). I did not stick around to see what she was going through, how she hurt, the pain, the anger… none of it………I just walked away and lived my life!! When this happened again last year and I watched and experienced what Diane went through I saw for the first time what Sandie must have gone through and maybe to another level even. I stayed and faced it with Diane but with Sandie, I gave her NOTHING!!! I truly thought she would be ok back then, it was no big deal. Man, she must have hated me!!! To Sandie I am truly sorry and I will always be so very thankful for how you raised the children, they all turned out GREAT and that is ALL BECAUSE of you!! You are a strong woman, a loving and wonderful mother and an incredible grandmother. Thank you! I wish it would have been different. I am sorry!
I left Sandie for Jody, a young girl I worked with. I was 29 years old with 4 children, she was 18 years old just out of HS and living with her parents. We moved in together and married about a year or two later. Her family hated me and we didn’t care! We were married for about a year and it all ended when I was arrested and her eyes were opened. We had NO CHILDREN THANK GOD. She was able to walk away after 3 years and we never saw one another again. I am so sorry for this part of my life – the hurt that I caused that family and her I can’t even imagine….. well I can in a way, I know how protective I am with my girls when it comes to boys! I will probably never have the chance to speak to her or her family again………but I am so very sorry!!
And then there is Diane, my 3rd wife. When we met I was a brand new Christian man going through a divorce and on my way to prison. She was a young woman that was a born again Christian, never married and committed to staying single, not dating until God brought along the right man. We didn’t start dating until a couple years later, although there was something there for both of us. When we did start dating everything moved quickly…. within months we set a date to marry. Here family LOVED and ACCEPTED ME right into the family. God showed her I was the man she was to marry. A man married 2 times with 4 children and spent a year in prison! Can you imagine? We married with our eyes on ministry the entire time. … this was the goal, I was called to pastor, she was called to be my partner…..we had 4 children within the first few years and life took off from there. I loved the Lord, I loved her, I loved my family. BUT….I had things in me that just were not right, I could lie with ease, I could hide things with ease, I could flirt with other women with ease and Diane knew this, she kept forgiving me and forgiving me, believing that God would heal me one day. Each time something would come up it would kill her a little more and before we knew it we were in full time ministry together and if she ever exposed the “real” me she knew that I would lose my position, our church, blah blah blah. So when all this came out in 2012 after years and years of her dying more and more, not trusting me, being hurt by me in SO MANY ways……….she finally shut down and that was it!! She was not sure if she would remain married to me or not…….one thing about Diane is she loves God much more than she loves me, she trust God and did not trust me. She left and sought out what God had to say about it, what He wanted her to do. Without telling her story, she chose to forgive me and that opened the door to many to forgive and see, she chose to remain married to me and move forward. To Diane: I love you and will forever be grateful and thankful for the woman that you are! Our last years on this earth will be out best, with or without money we will always have one another and our family! Thank you for loving the Lord the way you do and being obedient to His word.
I have watched the pain, hurt and humiliation that she has gone through and that has helped me see so many things in my life. Who I am, Who I was, What I’ve done and how I’ve hurt so many. The devastation that I’ve cause Sandie and my other children. The lack of Love that I give, show and experience. Diane I will always be grateful to you….. I LOVE YOU with all my heart.
So, “He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?”
He can’t and I didn’t!! I treated God’s church just like I treated Sandie, Jody, Diane, Jennifer, Misty, Shirley, Ryan, Meghan, Noah, Rebecca, and Adam…….How do you test a man in this? I can lie, I can cover up, I can convince a board that all is well with my family, I can even convince myself (I believe this is how I lived my life) that they respected me. BUT…if they would have spoken with Sandie or any of my children I had with her, especially Misty they may have gotten a better picture of me.
I cannot go back in time and repair any of this – I can only live my life today the BEST I can, one day at a time. I LOVE and I am learning to love. I have a long way to go with all my children and I pray that the day will come when all is healed, forgiven and clean. No pain, no living with “I wish…..” but we will be pure, loving and renewed as a family. ALL OF US!!
FORGIVENESS IS A POWERFUL THING…..